Age-Friendly Discussion Groups: Communication and Information

May 27, 2018 at 8:36 a.m.


...by ...by Wendy Pender, KCLS Older Adults Program Coordinator

This is the second month of our exploration of the Age-Friendly Communities movement. This month’s topic for discussion is “communication and information.”

As this aspect of Age-Friendly Communities recognizes, “Not everyone has a smartphone or internet access and information needs to be disseminated through a variety of means.” That includes print, in person, computers, social media, video, flyers, newspapers, billboards, bookmarks, calendars…you get the drift. There are many ways to communicate and to find information!

Access to information is always provided FREE at your community library. Turn to us when you are seeking answers beyond Google, or your printer has died, or you are visiting another town or you need help digging into the world of the internet. When rating places to live, libraries are always listed among the most desirable community assets. Here in the Puget Sound, we have libraries in just about every community and neighborhood. There are 48 libraries in the King County Library System, 27 in Seattle, 22 in the Sno-Isle System and 20 in Pierce County. We’ve got you covered!

Of course, there’s the postal service, telephones and good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction, but increasingly communication is done via keyboard, text and touch screens. Technology certainly has its plusses and minuses, but how does one “keep up” with it all?

Keeping up means different things to different people. Some people want to read everything on a new topic and own the latest and greatest device. Others eschew new or fancy in favor of tried and true. There’s no one way that works for everyone, and these days many people feel they are drowning in information. With 24/7 access to virtually anything in the world, it can be difficult to distinguish what’s important. On the other hand, technology makes so many tasks easier – sending messages in the blink of an eye, reformatting a newsletter (remember cutting and pasting when it was actually done with scissors and tape?), sharing pictures, making your pictures better (eliminating “red-eye” and even wrinkles). It can be miraculous!

One of the best things about libraries is human interaction. You can curl up in a corner with a book or your smartphone, but you can also connect with a library staff member and receive one-on-one attention and help. On anything. In person, by phone or email – chat with Ask KCLS (1-800-462-9600 and kcls.org/using-the-library/chat/). We don’t care who you are or what you look like – all are welcome. Our doors are open most evenings and weekends, with free and open access to not only books, magazines and online research databases like Consumer Reports and ancestry.com, but also to computers and classes of all sorts.

Libraries also have book groups of all kinds, meeting rooms where you can start your own discussion group or even your next big idea! Speaking of big ideas, the Bellevue Library has been remodeled to feature KCLS’ first “ideaX Makerspace” where you can work with others to create all kinds of projects from sewing to 3D printing and more!

High speed internet helps keep people connected as we age, to people and the issues we care about. With the internet we can research topics of interest, work from home (telecommute), engage in social media to keep up with friends and family, purchase items for delivery, or express our opinions to our senators and representatives. At KCLS, we provide many electronic newsletters so you can be informed about when your favorite author has something new, keep up with your favorite genre and see what bestsellers are hot this week. Sign up at kcls.org/newsletters/ for KCLS newsletters; see the genres and sign up for new book alerts at kcls.org/nextreads-book-alerts/. KCLS has a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kingcountylibrarysystem). Some individual libraries have their own page.

AARP also has wonderful newsletters, resources and events targeting issues of interest to older adults. For example, this month there is a legislative initiative on Medicaid-funded hearing aids that will affect many people. AARP’s timely news keeps constituents posted on issues and what actions to take to promote legislation supporting adults as they age. AARP even hosts a free “tele-town hall” each month so you can listen in to experts on various legislative issues and ask questions. It’s a great way to stay informed!

As we’ve seen, there are numerous ways to interact and find the information you need. Call, text, email, letters, newsletters, books, magazines, movies…the choices are endless, but needn’t overwhelm. There’s help! Turn to us, the choices will surprise you!

Here are some questions to prompt your discussion on this aspect of Age-Friendly cities:

  1. How has communication changed over your lifetime? How do you feel about those changes?
  2. What does “keeping up” mean to you? How do you choose to use (or not use) technology? What are the impacts of your decisions?
  3. What type of communication do you prefer? Do you long for?
  4. What types of information do you usually look for and where do you look? Are there other ways you might find it? What types of information might you help others discover?
  5. What’s your preferred discovery method when investigating a new topic? Do you use more than one? Why do you prefer your favorite?
  6. What are your favorite ways to discover something new? What about a way to share a favorite memory or story?
  7. What else would you like to tell the group about communication and information? How could the group support this aspect of livability?

Age-Friendly Discussion Groups

Would you like to gather with others to discuss topics of interest to the 50+ crowd? Look for this feature in every issue of Northwest Prime Time, brought to you by AARP Washington, King County Library System, and Aging and Disability Services–the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle/King County.

Each month we will examine a “hot topic” of interest to older adults, along with suggested discussion points and resources. Perhaps you’re already part of a group that will add this to their monthly activities, or maybe you’d like to form a new group. Meetings can take place anywhere people may want to congregate on a regular basis.

Kitchen Table Talks: On June 19 from 1–2pm, Age Friendly Seattle will host another lively monthly conversation about age-friendly communities. This month’s topic is “Communication & Information” (please see related article above). This discussion opportunity is open to all. You can call in from anywhere, 206-386-1200 or toll-free 1-844-386- 1200 (when prompted, enter code 9293340) or visit bit.ly/2HlxFTm (when prompted, enter code 9293340). For additional information, visit www.seattle.gov/agefriendly/events or, if you have questions about this event ahead of time, call 206-386-1521.

Last month’s discussion focused on housing as it relates to older adults. This month’s discussion is staying connected through communication & information. Upcoming discussion topics will include staying socially active, respect &social inclusion for older adults, options for civic participation & employment, community & health services, and transportation.

We want your feedback!

We encourage groups to provide input on this ongoing project:

• Snap a photo of your group and post it or any comments/questions on AARP Washington’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/AARPWA/groups; or

• email your comments and questions to editor@northwestprimetime.com; or

• call Northwest Prime Time at 206-824-8600; or

• mail us a note: Northwest Prime Time, PO Box 13647, Seattle WA 98198.

PRIZES!

• Each group that contacts Northwest Prime Time by email, phone or U.S. mail will be entered to win a $100 gift card to Starbucks so you can splurge on coffee and treats for your next discussion group meeting.

• Your group will also be entered to win the grand prize (to be announced) at the end of the year. No cost to participate; limit one entry per month per group.

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